grief of losing dog

Grief Dog: how to deal with the loss of a dog

To grief about your dog can be a very painful and overwhelming process. I get that since I have lost 3 dogs in my life who were very important to me. In this blog I want to share my own experience and tips to deal with the grief and loss of your beloved dog. I also highly recommend reading a few books about grief for your dog on Amazon since it has helped me during the process of grieving. You can buy these books here.

When is the right time?

Your dog is part of the family.  They are part of our lives for a long time.  In cats it can be twenty years, in dogs sometimes fifteen years.  Smaller animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits, ferrets, mice, rats and birds often have shorter lives.  But we all love them and want to keep them with us as long as possible.  However, there often comes a time when you as owner have to decide about the life of your dog. It may be that your dog is older and gets more and more complaints, such as pain due to osteoarthritis or tumors.  But of course a younger dog can just as easily get a serious illness or might have an accident etc. How do you, as an owner, decide when is the right time to say goodbye and opt for euthanasia?

As an owner, you can look at your dog yourself and ask yourself:

what else can it  do?  Eating and drinking, walking, hearing, seeing?  Does your dog still enjoy the things it always liked, such as cuddling or playing?  Is it still a dignified life?  What are your own considerations, what makes it extra difficult to say goodbye to your dog?  Did your dog have a strong bond with someone who is no longer there or can you no longer have a dog because of your own age? 

Good to know with this difficult decision, you can ask for help from your own veterinarian or assistant. They are experts in the field of veterinary medicine and have experience in making this decision.  For example, you can also discuss with them what you can do at home to make the last part of its life as pleasant as possible for your dog. 

The right time for my last dog Didi was when she didn’t want to drink or eat anymore and just laid in her dog bed. She died because of chronic kidney failure and you can check this blog post about chronic kidney failure here.

Grief dog. Didi resting during last weekst
Grief dog. Didi resting during last weeks.

Grief for my dog Didi

I might say that I did already grief for my dog Didi already weeks before she died because I saw the end was coming nearby. I felt depressed, sad and every time I looked at my dog Didi I almost wanted to cry because I knew she got worse and worse. She felt almost like a child to me and I felt like a part of my heart was starting to die. But regardless how hard it already felt I tried to make it the best time possible for my dog Didi. We had lots of quality time and sometimes I just started to cry when I was petting her. And I just convinced myself that this is okay and normal.

For 16,5 years she was my most loyal companion and the best company to have. I can say we had a very strong bond since she was a traumatized stray dog from Portugal and always had issues to trust strangers. I became her ‘protector’ even though I tried her to be more social towards other dogs and people. So the last stage of Didi’s life I had mixed feelings: I tried to be as positive as possible to remember this as a memorable and great last time. On the other hand I was so incredible sad and needed to grief for my dog Didi even though she was still alive. I started assembling old photos.

Grief for dog. Didi in happy times

The euthanasia itself

If euthanasia is the best option for your dog, it is good to list a few things.  For example, the place of death.  For many dogs it is less stressful if the euthanasia can take place at home.  They then no longer have to be brought into practice, but remain in their familiar environment.  This is also often more pleasant for you as an owner.  There you can mourn and grief of losing your dog in your own way and on your terms. You can decide for yourself how long you want to say goodbye and that way any other dogs are there if their roommate dies.

Take control what you want with the euthanasia

You may have a preference for a particular veterinarian from a practice to perform the euthanasia.  Or you want your children to be there to say goodbye to your dog.  You can discuss this with your vet or assistant.  They can tell you what options the practice has.  Home euthanasia is usually possible, but not always at any time.  It is useful to have this conversation in advance and not at the time of the euthanasia itself.  Every vet will do his or her best to make the euthanasia as smooth and pleasant as possible.

I highly recommend to be with your dog during the euthanasia. Your dog knows something is going on and if you leave your best buddy alone during the last moments this will be very stressful and scary not having his best human friend around in his darkest moments.

Grieving for my dog Didi during euthanasia

We planned having the euthanasia in our home. However because of the weekend and that she got worse sooner than expected, we went to the vet. My partner and I went to a special room and waited for the vet. I had the dog bed with Didi on my lap and the vet gave her a shot to sleep. Somehow Didi still wanted to live and wanted to snap the vet when the vet gave her this shot. To me this was heartbreaking and I grieved so intense and what I felt was guilt! Guilt because I decided this moment for her and she resisted so strongly.

After she fell asleep I had her in my arms and thanked her again for the wonderful time together. The vet came sooner back than expected for the second shot. I wanted to get more time to say goodbye and I wasn’t sure if she was actually fallen in a deep sleep. So I asked the vet to give me a few more minutes with her before Didi got her second shot.

Take your time to grieve your dog during euthanasia

My advice to you is to take your time you need and don’t let a busy or impatience vet control your last moments with your dog. I believe that these last moments are very important for your process regarding grieving for the loss of your dog. If you are in the clinic you can ask to be left alone for a few minutes if that is what you prefer. I know you might feel that you aren’t capable of nothing during this stage but please stay strong to speak out your needs. And of course make sure you choose an emphatic vet that you trust.

I want to save you the little trauma we had with the first dog . This vet lacked empathy, was impatience and wanted to get over it as soon as possible. So he decided to give my first dog the second shot directly in the heart. This was very painful and unethical to watch and this meant not a quiet and peaceful euthanasia. Every time I think about my first dog this image stays in my head. So please make sure you take control over the last moments with you and your dog. No one can take these moments from you.

After euthanasia 

As the owner, after euthanasia, the question remains: what do you want with your dogs’ body?  There are several options. You may check in your country what the rules are.

In the Netherlands you may bury your dog in your own yard.  This is allowed under certain conditions throughout the Netherlands, with a few exceptions (check with your own vet or the municipality where you live). 

You can also have your dog buried in an animal cemetery. 

Another option is to have your dog cremated.  There are several animal crematoria in our country.  Cremation is possible for every budget.  With an individual cremation you can receive the  ashes of your dog back.  You can keep the ashes in an urn, jewelry or art object.  You can also choose to scatter the ashes. 

A fourth option is destruction.  If you leave your dog at the vet without giving a preference, your animal will be industrially destroyed along with other animals and animal waste. 

Finally, you can make your dogs body available to science via the Animal Donor Codicil.  Your dog will then be used for education to veterinarians in training.  A dog would otherwise be used for this education.  Veterinary practices can register to participate in the Animal Donor Codicil.  Your own vet can tell you more about this.  Think carefully about which choice feels best for you as owner.  There is no right or wrong.  When making this choice, it can also be a good idea to  discuss the options with your own vet.

Grief dog Didi: individual cremation for Didi

We decided to cremate Didi since bury her in our garden was not an option for us. We chose an individual cremation and have the ashes in an urn. I am super happy that we chose for an individual cremation. Why? because the people from the animal cemetery know exactly how to make a worthy ceremony. We went into a nice light room with appropriate music in the background.

Didi laid on a nice dog bed with a beautiful dog blanket wrapped around her. Some flowers were left between her front legs. A few candles were put around her. This sight of her laying there so peacefully brought tears to my eyes. We had a half hour to be with her and say goodbye and costed 28 euro’s. And hell yeah, we grieved so intense as possible but it was good for the grieving process. Afterwards, we decided to drink coffee in one of our favorite coffee shops in our neighborhood and tell stories about Didi. This was our way of dealing with the loss and grief process for our dog.

Grief for dog

After the loss of your dog, the grieving phase begins, this process often feels the same as after the loss of a loved one.  In the beginning there is often a lack of understanding: you cannot imagine that your dog is really no longer there.  You may also feel anger because your animal is no longer there.  All those feelings are normal and allowed to be.  Finally, there is the stage of acceptance that your dog is no longer there and that life goes on. 

You might experience:

  • loneliness: you might feel that no-one understands what you are going through. Especially when people say things like: ‘it was only a dog’ or ‘you can simply buy a new one’. Please note that most people don’t say this to intentionally hurt you. They say this out of concern or not know what to say even though they don’t know how hurtful this can be to you.
  • Extreme sadness and depression: you might feel like one of your closest family members or friends have died.
  • Guilt: you can have feelings of guilt because you were responsible for your dogs’ life and you could have prevented your dogs’ death. Maybe you ask yourself ‘what if i would have’ or ‘if only I could have done..’. After a while it is possible you feel guilty for not grieving and cry that much anymore like you did before.
  • Concentration problems: especially during the first period of time focusing and concentrate on a task can be very hard to do. Remember this is part of the process when you grief of losing your dog.
  • Feeling your dog is still around you: it can be the case you think you can still hear, smell or see your dog like your dog is still around you. Or you are so used to your daily routines you think about walking the dog and think about feeding your dog. This can be very painful because you start to remember your dog isn’t there anymore.
  • Reliving or Re-visioning the Death: for weeks or months you may focus on your dogs’ death and play these last moments over and over in your head. Especially if your dog died in a traumatic way your mind is trying to heal itself by repeating this event over and over again in order to eventually letting this go.
  • Grieving for your dog let you think about other losses: the grief for your dog can be a trigger for you to think about other people or pets you have lost. This can be very confusing since you don’t know anymore for whom you are grieving.
  • Your other pets are looking like they are grieving as well: animals can also bond with each other and the death of their friend can be hard for them as well. Both the dynamics and structure within the family is changed and your other pets need time to adjust to the new situation.
Grief for loss of dog. Didi having her power nap in the last weeks.
Grief for loss of dog. Didi having her power nap in the last weeks.

Grief process: how long does it take to get over the death of a dog?

Acute grief normally one to two months up to a full year.

How long this grieving process takes varies from person to person.  Previous experiences with the loss of loved ones can play a role in this.  And of course it matters what kind of bond you had with your dog.  It is important when dealing with grief to talk about it with people who  understand you.  This can be within the family, family friends or acquaintances.  But your vet or assistant, who has known your animal for years, can also offer support and a listening ear.  Most people who have lost a dog of their own, understand that very well.  Sometimes it can be nice to make a photo book of your animal or to make a memory in another way.  Walking in places where you always walked with your dog can also be beneficial in coping with your loss.  Do it in a way that feels right for you. 

Does the loss of your pet have such an impact that you can no longer function properly?  There are special care providers who are committed to supporting people in grief and grief.  check in your area if there are some support groups.

Why is losing a dog so painful?

It is not only about losing your beloved dog. You miss the unconditional love, the security, stability and comfort. Another very important reason is the change in your daily routine. It can be very stressful to change your daily routine. Since your dog might be the reason for you to plan your entire schedule around your dogs need, the loss of your dog can seriously disrupt your daily routine. This is also an important reason you feel you might grief more over your dog than over a close relative or friend since they don’t disrupt your daily routine and lifestyle that much.

My best practices and tips to grief your dog:

  • Make the last moments and time as comfortable as possible for your dog. Give your dog the best food, treats, love and care there is. These moments are precious and you will never regret yourself anything. Take time off from work if possible and simply be in the now with your best buddy. It’s okay to grief!
  • Euthanasia in your home: my experience is that the less stressful option is to do the euthanasia at home. Your dog and you are in your save haven and is the most comfortable option. For Didi this wasn’t possible but for my second dog, Zeus the Rottweiler, this was a really peaceful option.
  • Euthanasia done by emphatic and patient vet: these last moments you will always remember so better make it count! For my dog Zeus I had a really involved vet who cared and took her time. I can’t thank her enough for the kind and correct way of handling this horrible situation. If your vet wants to get it over with as soon as possible showing no understanding for your emotions and pain, this might effect you on the long term. You don’t feel this situation was taken seriously and you will remain with a forever bitter sweet memory.
  • Individual cremation: since we didn’t have the possibility to bury her in the garden we cremated Didi. I am very happy with the decision to cremate her and pay for an individual cremation. Meaning she would not be cremated with other animals and we could say goodbye to Didi in a very peaceful and respectful way. I believe for the grieving process we made the right decision. Because we chose for this cremation we took our grief very seriously and we allowed ourselves to mourn and grief during the time we could say goodbye. Also the employees of the animal cemetery were very kind, respectful and caring.
  • Create your own service or ceremony: we went for a nice cup of coffee in a cozy coffee shop nearby ordering our favorite latte and pastry. Because we already had an official individual cremation at the animal cemetery, this was our little ceremony. We talked about the good times with Didi and what she meant for us. Again we had taken our grief seriously by making time for it. You can do a service or ceremony in your house or in the garden or wherever you feel comfortable.
  • Read books or articles about grief dog and dog loss: you don’t feel so alone if you read the stories from others who have gone through the same grief process. And you may find new tips and insights from other people who also experienced this intense grief and sadness.
  • Make a photo book: collect all the nice pictures you have from your dog and make a nice photo book. You will see that it might be hard to be confronted with the death of your dog. However, being occupied with making this nice collection is good for your grief process. You take time for your beloved dog again and every photo represents one of the nice moments you had.
  • Mention on social media: I never thought I would say this but after my partner gently convinced me to put a message on facebook, I did it. I simply posted a message like ‘rest in peace dear Didi, thank you for all the good years, we will miss you!’ with a picture of Didi in good condition. I didn’t expect so many kind responds of my Facebook friends and it felt so good that other people cared. It is maybe good to mention that you probably only mention it on Facebook, whats app status or private Instagram and not on LinkedIn. For the grief process this was very good. And if there would be weird responds it would be a sign for me that these people don’t fit with me and my values. This could be a moment to think if I want such people in my life:).
  • Talk about your grief of your dog to the right people: I started talking about my grief and loss with other people who I knew were dog lovers. I felt heard and supported. because of my post on Facebook support came from unexpected corners and I talked about my grief to the right people. Avoid talking about your grief with people who never had pets or you know they don’t understand!
  • Give you and your family permission to grief and mourn. Don’t think it is not appropriate to grief and mourn because it is a dog and not a human. As I mentioned earlier, the loss of a dog can sometimes feel more intense then the death of a relative or friend. This is due to the unconditional love and daily routines you had with your dog.
  • Explain the loss to your children in a way they understand.
  • Maintain other pets’ schedule and routines. If you have other pets than try to keep the same routines as usual. Try to maintain your walking schedule every day.
  • Attend a pet support group or talk to a therapist. If you don’t feel you can talk about your loss wit other people around you than check if there is a support group nearby. Ask your vet about it or check on internet or if there are Facebook support groups you can join.
  • Write a letter to yourself about what you are going through. Write down everything that comes to your mind when it comes to the feelings you are experiencing. This can really help you to get some of the pain and grief out of your system.
  • Write a blog and share your experience with the world. I was encouraged by others to write a blog post about the grieving process. Why? Because there are so many people struggling with the same feelings who don’t feel heard or feeling alone. Writing about this grief both helps me in a therapeutic way and I hope that I help others like you.
kidney failure dog: Didi stage 1

Kidney failure in dog: what is it and how to treat it

What is kidney or renal failure in dog?

Kidney failure in dog also known as renal failure can be caused due to several different diseases.

Kidneys have several tasks in your dogs body. They are very important for the regulation of hydration. Kidneys remove toxins out of the body. They release hormones that are necessary for the production of red blood cells. They also are important to maintain a normal electrolyte balance. If you have a dog with kidney failure these functions are not longer working properly in the body. There are 2 kinds of kidney failure in dog:

Acute kidney failure

Acute renal kidney failure means that the kidneys are no longer working as they should due to suddenly decline. (few hours until days). Acute renal failure in dog has several causes:

Acute kidney failure causes

It can take a few hours or days until the dogs kidneys are not functioning properly. Mostly caused by infections or toxins.

Causes for acute renal failure can be:

Acute kidney failure in dogs may have several causes like dehydration or a bacterial infection. A bacterial infection can be caused by drinking or swimming in contaminated water. There are also other external factors that can cause acute kidney failure:

  • Antifreeze ( if your dog licked antifreeze by accident from the ground, please make sure you don’t spoil antifreeze in your garage or driveway where the dog has access to)
  • Raisins and grapes (check what is in some food to make sure there are no grapes or raisins in it)
  • Human heart medication (please make sure your dog never has access to your own medications)
  • Ibuprofen (if your dog has an infection or is in pain ,please never give your dog your own medication but consult your veterinarian).
  • Overdose of canine medications like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Chocolate (I know you want your dog to be happy because chocolate can make you happy but giving your dog chocolate is not one of them.
  • acetaminophen or paracetamol ( for humans used to lower fever and a pain reliever)

Of course this list is not complete. To avoid acute kidney failure to the minimum make sure you keep your household items out of the reach. Your beloved furry friend will be forever grateful!

Luckily, in my case my dog Didi didn’t have the experience with acute renal failure . However, I want to mention this type of kidney failure anyway. I believe it is very important for people to know what the consequences are if your dog has eaten the above items.

Symptoms of acute renal failure

The symptoms of acute kidney failure will appear rapidly. Within a few hours or days after drinking or eating the toxins or after the infection you will notice. Here are some symptoms:

  • vomiting
  • having ulcurs in the mouth
  • tired, lack of energy and depression
  • drinking too much or drinking almost nothing
  • urinated too much or almost not want to urinate
  • uncoordinated movement like stumbling
  • no appetite
  • breathing smells like chemicals

Chronic kidney failure dog

If your dog suffers form chronic kidney failure it means the kidneys are losing their function gradually over weeks, months or years.

Causes chronic kidney failure in dogs

  • Aging: the kidneys are degenerating mainly due to aging (geriatric decline). It is natural for kidneys to have a natural lifespan but some kidneys will simply fail more quickly than others. The size of the dog also plays a part when the aging of the kidneys start. Mostly, small dogs will show early signs of kidney failure in between ten to fourteen years of age.
  • Congenital disease: there are some diseases your dog might have inherited like being born without one kidney or abnormal development and cysts.

Chronic renal failure prevention

Here are 2 reasons I want to mention . You can take these into consideration that could effect your dogs’ kidney. These causes are mainly on the long term as well. This is based on my own experience with my dog Didi. It could have been prevented if I knew this before:

  • Commercial wet dog food: if you feed your dog mostly wet dog food the teeth can develop plague, gum disease and cavities. Especially small dogs like Jack-Russell’s and Yorkshire terriers are very sensitive to bad teeth. Not only this is very painful for your dog but it can also lead to other diseases. For example heart, liver and kidney failure on the long run. If not treated, your dog can lose his appetite caused by the pain of the teeth. Therefore, it is very important to ask your vet to check the teeth of your dog. This can be done once or twice a year. If the vet recommends a teeth cleansing treatment to prevent further damage than it is definitely worth considering it. And it is probably not popular to say this but try to feed your dog mainly dry food. It is very important for your dog to chew the food properly in order to clean its teeth naturally.
  • Bad teeth: if your dog has problems with his teeth than it can effect the kidneys on the long run. If your dog has a bad smell, brown teeth and does not want to chew or eat food, this is a good warning that your dog has bad teeth. Your dog might need a professional teeth cleansing treatment provided by the vet.

Importance of teeth examination and cleansing

In the case of my dog Didi I detected her kidney failure in time thanks to her bad teeth issues. She didn’t want to eat anything. After the vet ran some random blood tests on her as well the chronic kidney failure was detected’ in time’. I was able to start her kidney treatment from that point on. The chronic kidney failure was detected by accident so to speak.

In Didi’s case she had the disadvantage that she was a Jack-Russell mix and was sensitive for having bad teeth. Because of this, she had several professional teeth cleansing treatments in her life.

Maybe if I only could clean her teeth with a toothbrush myself I could have prevented a few teeth cleansing treatments. Unfortunately, she was so scared of the toothbrush and so stressed out I haven’t forced her again. Since she was a very traumatized dog (stray dog from Portugal)she panicked of almost everything.

Additional info cleansing treatment

Lastly, the vet asked to remove possible inflamed anal glands as a preventive and free service. This would be done during the teeth cleansing treatment. I agreed to it since Didi wouldn’t feel anything. However, this turned into a big problem afterwards. The anal glands were squeezed out too hard (there was blood coming out afterwards) and the result was that Didi didn’t want to poop anymore since it was too painful. After 5 days not having pooped the vet used anal medication to make Didi poop instantly. This treatment was repeated twice.

So I want to warn you that if you want to preventive remove inflamed anal glands even though your dog shows no signs of discomfort please think again. I would not recommend it if it is not necessary.

Kidney food dog: Didi stage 1
Kidney food dog: Didi stage1

Symptoms of chronic renal failure dog

Chronic kidney failure of a dog can be presented within months or years. The signals can vary from small and gradually develop into severe chronic kidney failure. These symptoms can be a warning sign that your dog might have kidney disease:

  • Drinking too much
  • Urinating large volumes and too much
  • Overall weakness due to low potassium in your dogs’ blood
  • The volume of the urine in the bladder is increased
  • Depression signs caused by elevation of waste products in the blood.

Advanced symptoms of chronic kidney failure dog

In a more advances stage of chronic kidney failure you might see these signals:

  • significant weight loss
  • no or bad appetite
  • uncoordinated movement like stumbling or drunken behavior
  • pale gums
  • blood in urine
  • tired, lack of energy and depression
  • vomiting
  • breathing smells like chemicals
  • intestinal seizures
  • ulcurs in the mouth

Once your dog is showing these signs and you start noticing, the kidney disease has advanced. Please go to your vet to examine your dog.

My dog Didi was early diagnosed due to blood tests and urine tests before her professional teeth cleansing treatment. After the kidneys started to get worse she showed signs like drinking too much and urinating more than usual.

Diagnosing chronic kidney failure in dog

Chronic kidney failure can be detected by running a couple of blood and urine tests. This is to confirm your dog has chronic kidney failure. If your vet wants to have a complete view of the disease than ultrasound, X-rays and urinalysis are normally used when diagnosing chronic kidney failure. This depends on the situation. Running blood tests and urine tests are also good to exclude other diseases like diabetes mellitus. Diabetes can also have some symptoms that look quite the same. My dear Rottweiler Zeus who was diagnosed with diabetes mellitus had similarsymptoms. The symptoms were drinking and urinating too much and could easily be confused with chronic kidney failure.

Your vet will consider the type of renal failure and the progression of the condition. He or she will also look for the cause and the extend of loss of function of the kidneys.

Diagnosing chronic renal failure Didi

In Didi’s case she had blood and urine tests to begin with. After a few years her symptoms worsened. The vet wanted to know exactly what the stage of her kidneys were. She got an ultrasound. The vet could see on the ultrasound that one of her kidneys was almost not visible anymore. The kidney had shrunk in size. This can happen because of aging.

The ultrasound was done without anesthesia and for Didi very stressful. Why? Because she needed to lay on her side and back with (over) stretched legs. The vet needed to shave her belly so the ultrasound device would easily slide on her belly. Because the vet couldn’t locate one kidney. Because it shrunk, he needed to put more pressure on her belly and Didi was terrified and I needed to hold her legs and keep her quiet. I held her since she hated going to the vet and never liked strangers. This was caused by her traumatic past. If I would do this over again I would ask the vet to give her something to calm her down. Maybe some anesthesia. Why? Both for Didi and I it was very stressful and after this treatment she didn’t wanted to enter the veterinarian office.

Kidney failure in dog stages

There are 4 stages of chronic kidney failure according to the International Renal Interest Society. In what stage your dog is in can be examined by running blood and urine tests. The severity can be measured by checking the blood waste product and abnormalities in the urine and level of protein.

Stage 1 is the lowest stage and stage 4 the highest. If your dog is in stage 4 , you see the symptoms very clear. Lots of drinking, urinating, vomiting, not want to eat or bad appetite are regular. So the sooner you start the treatment to support the kidneys the better to prolong your dogs’ life.

How long does a dog live with kidney failure?

It depends on what stage your dog is at. If discovered and treated in an early stage, your dog might have a good quality of life for several years ahead. According the statistics, the overall survival time for a dog in stage 1 is more than 400 days. In stage 2 it lays in between 200-400 days, in stage 3 in between 110 to 200 days. Please note this is an estimation and every dogs’ situation is different.

How long did Didi live with kidney failure?

My dog Didi has lived with her kidney disease almost 5 years so there is hope if early detected! Thanks to the special kidney food diet her kidneys didn’t got worse too fast. I believe (and is confirmed by the vet), that her special diet is the cause her lifespan prolonged for so many years. And also the early discovery of the kidney failure before Didi showed serious symptoms, has contributed to her long lifespan.

If your dog has very bad teeth, please ask your vet for a professional teeth cleansing treatment. This might be the cause of early chronic kidney failure as well. You can combine this treatment with running blood tests to see if there are some underlying issues like kidney failure. Your dog is under general anesthesia during the teeth cleaning treatment after all. Therefore, running an extra blood test will cost you and your dog no extra stress.

Kidney failure in dog end stage

What are the symptoms of end stage kidney failure in dogs?

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease. By the time your dog show signals like vomiting, bad appetite, not eating, nauseousness, depression, diarrhea and very bad breath, this disease has increased into stage 4.

Kidney failure in dog stage 4

How long can a dog live with stage 4 kidney disease?

In stage 4 your dog shows the most symptoms as mentioned before. The estimated survival time for a dog in stage 4 lays in between 14-80 days according to the IRIS.

My dog Didi didn’t recover properly from her last teeth cleansing treatment (she was almost 16,5) . The symptoms got worse and worse. Because her teeth were again in such a bad state ,we were advised to let her teeth professionally clean again. Even though she only ate dry food, her teeth were bad. Seven teeth were removed. Of course, this treatment could mean Didi would not survive it. But it was this treatment or a slow death of starvation. After the treatment she slowly started to eat again but unfortunately her kidneys got worse. On one hand we needed to make sure she just ate, but on the other hand she needed to eat her kidney diet. So we investigated a lot about the ingredients in kidney diet and made a lot or recipes ourselves. From the day of the surgery until the day she died she lived 2,5 month. I have written a blog about grief and how to deal with the loss of a dog if the time has come to say goodbye to your beloved friend. Check this blog here.

Can a dog recover from kidney failure?

It depends if the dog has acute or chronic kidney failure. Acute kidney failure is very serious and unfortunately the prognosis is often not good. Some dogs might survive and other dogs don’t. However, acute kidney failure can be reversed if treatment is provided in an early stage by the vet.

If your dog has chronic kidney failure than it can only be treated with a kidney diet. This diet will be advised by your vet. This diet only helps in the first stages of the disease. In stage 3 or 4 your dog might need other treatment. This means your dog will not recover from the kidney failure since the cause is often aging or inherited disease. If the kidney failure in dog is detected in an early stage your dog might have a good prognosis. Your dog might still live a few more extra years.

Ask your vet to examine your pet by taking blood and urine tests. For a complete view your vet may recommend X-rays or ultrasounds etc. As mentioned before, to support your dogs’ kidneys it is very important to give your dog a special kidney diet. To prevent kidney failure, keep your dogs’ teeth in good condition.

chronic renal disease dog: Didi stage 1
Chronic renal disease dog : Didi enjoying life stage 1

Kidney failure dogs treatment

Blood and urine tests to check kidney failure

Firstly, your vet needs to perform blood and urine tests to check for kidney disease. In addition your vet can do a physical examination. To get a complete view of the stage, and to discover the cause of the kidney disease, your vet might take an X-ray or ultrasound.

If your dog is still in an early stage, you can support the kidneys by giving your dog a special diet dog food. This special kidney food is advised by the vet.

My dog Didi has eaten special kidney diet since she was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure. I would highly recommend to stay in good contact with your vet if your dog is showing more symptoms in order to adjust treatment. If your dog is a very picky eater due to the kidney failure I have some recommendations based on my own experience . I will share my best dog food tips during the different stages.

I have good experience with this kidney dog food from the brand

Please consult your vet for professional food advice before purchasing kidney diet food!

Medications for kidney failure

Your vet might prescribe several medication:

Phosphate binder: can be used to reduce positive phosphate balance. It lowers serum phosphate levels. This helps to prevent progression of chronic kidney disease.

Blood pressure medication: medication that helps to lower the blood pressure can slow down the progression of kidney failure.

Other more intense kidney failure treatments

Secondly, if the symptoms are increasing gradually over time, other treatments might be done. For example, providing your dog extra fluids under the skin. However, once the disease has progressed even the extra fluid can not help your dog properly. A more aggressive treatment to consider is hospitalization. This means your dog receives either fluid therapy, dialysis or even a kidney transplant.

For Didi both fluid therapy or dialysis were too late since she got into stage 4. The vet didn’t recommend these treatments since she was already too weak due to her teeth treatment. She was too old (16,5 years old). It was just a matter of prolonging her life for a few extra days, without good quality of life. We decided that we would do anything we could, to make her last days as comfortable as possible.

How can I make my dog with kidney disease comfortable?

By giving your dog small meals during the day. Instead of two to three meals a day you can give several small portions during the day. Give fresh food and make sure your dog always has access to clean water.

In the end stage we gave Didi the best food we could find. She wouldn’t eat dog food anymore anyway. There was no change she would recover after all. All in small portions.

How do you re-hydrate a dog with kidney failure?

Always provide fresh water. Maybe a water fountain is an option for you. You may put clean bowls in several rooms around the home.

What can I expect?

All treatments are meant to support the work the kidneys and to reduces accumulating wastes. Keep in mind that your dog might respond very slow to the fluid or dialysis. It can take weeks to months to see some progress. However, these treatments can prolong your dogs’ lifespan. Ask your vet for the possibilities and costs. Both fluid therapy and dialysis are not cheap and they can be time consuming and stressful for your dog. Therefore it is very important to ask your vet for advice.

Lastly, chronic kidney failure cannot be cured. It depends on what stage your dog is at what the life expectancy might be.

Is kidney failure painful in dogs?

In an early stage your dog can be treated with a special kidney diet. For most of the dogs kidney disease is uncomfortable in stead of painful. This depends on the stages. If your dog is in stage 4 your dog might experience symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, nauseousness, poor appetite. This is rather uncomfortable than painful.

My dog Didi had all the above symptoms and in addition she couldn’t control her bladder very well . This resulted in lots of ‘accidents’ in our house. This happened during the last days of her life. Before she reached stage 4, I never had the idea that she was in pain or in discomfort besides her picky eating habit. She was also drinking a bit more than before.

chronic renal failure dog: Didi stage 3
chronic kidney disease dog stage 3: Didi last year

I hope this blog post has given you some answers to your questions. You now know what to expect if your dog has chronic kidney failure.

*Disclaimer: I am not a vet and this information is only informative. No rights may be derived from this information. For professional medical advice please contact your veterinarian.

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